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Capitalism: A Love Story - Michael Moore dumps capitalism

Michael Moore’s latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story, is a brilliant attack on a brutal system, says Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2190

Michael Moore shouts louder than any of his contemporaries about the ravages of capitalism  (Pic: Overture Films)

Michael Moore shouts louder than any of his contemporaries about the ravages of capitalism (Pic: Overture Films)


When was the last time you went to the cinema and watched working class people defying bailiffs trying to repossess their home?

What was the last film you saw where sacked workers barricaded themselves inside their factory and refused to leave?

Have you ever seen a movie where a politician says bankers have staged a “financial coup d’etat” in the most powerful and supposedly democratic country in the world, the US?

Well that’s what you’ll see if you watch Michael Moore’s new film, Capitalism: A Love Story.

It’s remarkable that a film showing capitalism as a vicious system – and one that people can change – is going to appear in mainstream cinemas. Instinctive class hatred runs through it.

The film gets across brilliantly the scandalous transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

It points to the increasing overlap between business and government and how the rich use their power to get what they want.

It also picks up on the horribly ingenious ways that the rich find to steal our cash.

Some bosses in the US even take out secret life insurance policies on their workers – that they affectionately call “Dead Peasants Insurance”.

This means that, to the bosses, workers are worth more dead than alive. Moore reels off a list of household names – including WalMart and Bank of America – where this is the norm.

Bosses make billions while workers’ families are left with crippling medical bills and funeral costs.

Sharpest

Moore has rooted out the sharpest examples of capitalism’s brutality.

Nowhere is safe. Even if you own your own home, some capitalist will tell you that you aren’t making the most of its “equity”.

They will convince you to refinance it – and when you can’t afford the repayments they’ll take your house.

Companies like Condo Vultures thrive off the ruin the system creates – making money by “alerting” people who want to buy to where they can get a house at a knock down price.

The film shows how capitalism uses workers to get ahead and make money – but then tosses them aside.

At one point Moore goes with his dad to a vast wasteland full of rubble and piles of scrap metal. A factory used to exist here – a factory his dad had worked in for 30 years.

The scene hits you with the large-scale destruction that capitalism creates.

The big strength of the film, as with Moore’s other works, is the way it treats ordinary people.

They don’t necessarily have a clear political outlook – but it shows them warts and all. Their fury at the way they are treated, their questions about the system – and how they can fight back.

The film shows workers at the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago being sacked, and their upset and shock.

Moore later returns to them. These same workers are now occupying their factory, barricading the doors, organising rotas, building solidarity and preparing to face the full force of the state.

It really shows the potential for people to change themselves and the world.

We see people who, for most of their lives, think of themselves as nothing out of the ordinary. But they can do extraordinary things.

In some ways I am loath to criticise this film. It’s tempting just to be grateful that a wholesale assault on the system will be on the big screen.

But some of it was confusing.

At one point, Moore suggests that if only Democratic party leader Franklin D Roosevelt had lived, life for ordinary Americans would have been very different.

Deficit

But he has spent the entire film showing the democratic deficit that exists under capitalism and the domination of business – pointing to systemic problems.

His points are confused about Barack Obama too. He shows how business courted Obama, but also that Obama backed the Republic Windows and Doors workers.

You end up not knowing what Moore thinks about Obama.

But these aren’t the most important things about the film.

Moore ends his movie by saying this: “Capitalism is an evil and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it.”

We need more films like this.

Capitalism: A Love Story is released this Friday 26 February on limited release


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Reviews
Tue 23 Feb 2010, 19:25 GMT
Issue No. 2190
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